IFRSs from a financial analyst's viewpoint

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06 Mar 2009

The cover story of the Winter 2009 issue of 'The Investment Professional' presents a range of viewpoints – primarily those of professional investors and analysts – on the benefits and shortcomings of requiring IFRSs for all US SEC registrants.

The Investment Professional is the quarterly journal of The New York Society of Security Analysts, Inc (NYSSA). The article, The Hard Sell – SEC in a Quandary over Its Push for IFRS (PDF 551k), is copyright 2009 by NYSSA and is posted on IAS Plus with their kind permission. Here is a brief excerpt:

The seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of US IFRS adoption has collided with the global financial crisis, one of the few barriers that may be capable of derailing the rush to a single international accounting standard. Adoption of IFRS in the US is now far from a given, and even the roadmap published by the US Securities and Exchange Commission in November 2008 has the potential to be sidetracked or possibly abandoned now that President Obama's administration has taken office....

From a philosophical standpoint, at the heart of the debate over IFRS adoption is the question of whether a global accounting standard is either feasible or desirable. Politically, IFRS is entangled in a change of administration in the US and the inevitable tug of war between corporations and standard setters over specific rules promulgated by the IASB. Economically speaking, the important issues involve tax questions, the costs involved in a transition to IFRS, and whether a global accounting standard will ultimately be more transparent and more valuable to investors and stakeholders.

Any mandate that would force publicly traded companies to adopt IFRS has implications far beyond technical accounting issues – the shift would virtually affect a company's entire operation. Investors need to get a handle on what the impact will be, how particular companies will handle the transition, and how their IFRS financial statements will diverge from their US GAAP statements.

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